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Oct 23, 2017
This week’s theme
Coined words

This week’s words
mimsy
scare quote
proxemics
muppet
bafflegab

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Every word was used by someone for the first time, but in most cases, the name of that person is lost in the mists of time. Language is primarily a spoken thing and back then, hundreds or thousands of years ago, people didn’t have the good sense to carry cell phones with HD cameras to record for posterity the birth of a new word.

With writing came more possibilities, though most writing -- letters, notes, bills, etc. -- is ephemeral and not scanned and saved in the Library of Congress for the benefit of future etymologists and lexicographers.

That said, there are a few instances in which we know for sure the name of the person who gave birth to a word. This week we’ll feature five such words whose coiner is known.

mimsy

PRONUNCIATION:
(MIM-zee)

MEANING:
adjective: Prim; feeble; affected.

ETYMOLOGY:
Coined by Lewis Carroll in 1855 in a poem he published in his periodical Mischmasch. An extended version of this poem appeared as Jabberwocky in his novel Through the Looking-Glass in 1871. A blend of miserable + flimsy.

USAGE:
“I judge people on how they smell, in a wildly snobbish way ... anything too quiet is mimsy and annoying.”
India Knight; ‘Perfume: Century of Scents’, by Lizzie Ostrom - Review; The Spectator (London, UK); Dec 12, 2015.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand. -Emily Kimbrough, author and broadcaster (23 Oct 1899-1989)

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